Twentynine Palms -- The most recent training operation being conducted aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center is integrated training exercise 2-18, and the Marines of the Air Combat Element are a testament to the exercise’s ability to transform junior Marines into leaders.
Marine Wing Communication Squadron 38 is attending in support of Marine Wing Support Squadron 371, providing services that range from keeping internet up and running, to digging trenches for power lines.
“We are the digital backbone for the tactical network,” said Staff Sgt. Nathan Rohl, site staff non-commissioned officer in charge, MWCS-38, Alpha Detachment.
As one of the first units to set up during ITX, MWCS 38 focuses on monitoring equipment at all hours, job proficiency and leadership traits. Cpl. Benjamin J. Terrell, data assistance administrator, MWCS-38, Alpha Detachment, is a Marine who has experienced first-hand the importance of the ITX and what it has brought to his team of junior Marines.
“With every training operation we go on, the ultimate goal is to refine our skills for everyone in our shop and prepare for deployment,” said Terrell. “As an NCO, my job is to make sure I know the material and have the ability to teach it to my junior Marines.”
Despite the difficulties of in-field training operations, from the strict laundry times, limited shower space or simply being away from friends and family, the Marines of MWCS-38 are able to not only get the job done, but they put their word above their wants, said Terrell.
“It comes down to the Marine Corps first,” said Terrell. “I know it’s a common phrase, but as much as it sucks to be away from my family for so long, I made this commitment, and my wife knew what she signed up for—we work around it.”
Commitment is just one of the traits tested during an ITX. Throughout the event, junior Marines will be tested in a variety of ways, and be expected to not only step up their own game, but to elevate the Marines around them that fall behind.
“Every field operation is an opportunity to mold our Marines into efficient leaders who are proficient at their military occupational specialties,” Terrell said. “You have to do your job proficiently, but also help your peers get to the same level that you are.”
According to Terrell, Marines at ITX have the chance to stand out and prove their value in ways that would have gone otherwise unnoticed while in garrison. In addition, the training gives Marines in leadership positions the opportunity to determine the proficiency of their junior Marines based on their performance in a field environment.
“I’ll feel more comfortable when I have to leave my shop because I know that my junior Marines will be there to take my place,” Terrell said. “That’s how it should be.”